What is an Intercambio?
If you’ve been in Spain for a while and are still struggling to learn the language, you may hear people tell you to get an intercambio. Now, if you’ve no idea what an intercambio is, that could be a problem. Here’s a quick run-down on your typical intercambio in Spain and how they can help you learn Spanish faster.
An intercambio technically means a language exchange, or language exchange partner, and is set up between two people — one usually a native Spanish speaker, the other you. And, of course, you also want the native Spanish speaker to also be able to speak your native language, or it can be difficult for them to correct your Spanish and explain what you are saying wrong.
You’ll arrange to meet somewhere for a coffee or a snack and then just spend the time getting to know each other by talking. Often intercambios run for 1-2 hours and will be spent with the first half in Spanish and then the second half in your native language, so both you and the other person can improve their foreign language speaking skills.
Of course, it helps to have an intercambio with someone you actually have something in common with so, if possible, try to find people you actually want to hang out with as it makes it far less of a chore, and much more fun that way.
How to Find an Intercambio in Spain
You can find an intercambio in many different ways.
Post on one of the Spanish language forums online that you’re looking for an intercambio, and you might be amazed how many people are interested in meeting you for a conversation.
Leave a post asking for an intercambio on Craigslist for the city or town you’re in, in the ‘strictly platonic’ section, or look at English language magazines and newspapers in Spain. They often have sections just for intercambios.
If you are learning Spanish at a language school, they will often know about intercambios or will have notices posted on a bulletin board from people who are interested in being one.
Also, don’t forget to ask friends and acquaintances for referrals. They may know of people who are dying to be an intercambio to help someone learn Spanish and improve their English, French, German or Italian too.